Decriminalize not legalize illegal substances

Juan Casas, Courier Staff

We are all addicted to drugs. Whether it’s Tylenol for a mild headache or morphine for a surgery, we use drugs almost daily.

Unfortunately, there are many people within our society who have abused drugs, some legal drugs like opioids and some illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. Overall, there are a very small percentage of people who can honestly say that they have never used, abused or known someone who has abused drugs in their lifetime. So, when the question arises of whether to incarcerate drug users and drug dealers, then my answer is to give treatment to those addicted, while ensuring that those who distribute drugs are held accountable.

Helping addicts get clean while making sure distributors of certain illegal drugs are taken off the streets would help decrease the rate of drug addiction, while also helping reduce the rate of mass incarceration and help protect our communities. By doing this, we will be targeting hardened criminals who make a profit of the suffering of others, while also helping those who have been hurt by drugs. Yet, we must also keep in mind that there are bad people who make a profit off of the suffering of others, but are not considered criminals, and they must also be held accountable for the damage that they do. For example, CEO’s of pharmaceutical companies who push their drugs onto doctors without fully informing the doctors of those specific drugs, have a higher rate of patients addicted to substances like opioids. These companies should be charged for negligence at best, and at worst they should be charged for involuntary manslaughter for the deaths of addicts who’ve overdosed on opioids. We must also hold accountable the politicians and other elected officials, who take hush money and lobbying money from Big Pharma, in order to keep regulations and oversight at a minimum.

In essence, the current opioid epidemic could have easily been avoided if we had been targeting large-scale illegal narcotic operations from an enforcement perspective, while simultaneously helping addicts and their families get cleaned, and out of prison from a legislative perceptive. What we should have also been done is use the courts to limit the number of bribes and other monetary donations pharmaceutical companies could give to candidates, politicians and legislators. If we had done this, instead of enforcing all drug laws like the criminalization of less harmful substances like cannabis and shrooms, and the mass incarceration of all people addicted to drugs specifically minority groups from improvised communities, and the rise of legal corruption on the state and federal level attributed to special interest groups lobbying our government officials on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry, then perhaps we could have avoided all the pain and suffering that has befallen on hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans.

Overall, we should decriminalize all illegal substances, from cannabis to heroin, and aim to cure and treat people instead of punish and incarcerate them, while also ensuring that the illegal markets for these substances are limited to the black-market and not infused with our politics and our pharmaceutical industry that produces and distributes legal drugs that are used for good.